September 21, 2011

His Excellency Nguyên Minh Triêt

President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Minister of Public Security
Lt Gen Tran Dai Quang
Ministry of Public Security
44 Yet Kieu Street
Ha Noi
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Fax: + 844 3942 0223
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Pham Binh Manh
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1 Ton That Dam Street
Ba Dinh district
Ha Noi
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Fax: + 844 3823 1872

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our grave concern regarding the sentencing of activist and Internet writer Lu Van Bay.

According to our information, pro-democracy activist and prolific Internet writer Lu Van Bay was arrested in his home on March 26, 2011. Police also seized his computer and several of his articles. On August 22, 2011, following a half-day trial, he was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of house arrest for “conducting propaganda against the regime” under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code. Bay was charged specifically for 10 articles he posted on overseas Internet sites protesting Vietnam’s one-party rule and calling for the introduction of a multi-party system. The judge has stated that Bay “confessed” and asked for leniency.

Lu Van Bay has contributed to a number of web sites, including Dan Chim Viet, Doi Thoa, and To Quoc. For security reasons, he has written under various pseudonyms, including Tran Bao Viet, a pen name he has used since 2010. Bay’s focus is on social and political issues, including freedom of expression and of the press.

PEN American Center is deeply concerned that the imprisonment of Lu Van Bay is part of a concerted crackdown on freedom of expression that has been underway in Vietnam since October 2009 in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory. We therefore call for Lu Van Bay’s immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all others currently detained for the peaceful expression of their views.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Le Cong Phung
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
1233 20th St NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
Fax: (202) 861-0917

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